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National League Eastern Division sleeper prospects

Looking for values in the minor leagues. . .

Kyle Young

Let’s take a shot at pegging some prospect sleepers ahead of the curve. I’m going to divide this by division, with two sleepers per team, one pitcher and one hitter. None of them have a current grade higher than C+ on our prospect lists entering 2017, but all (in my opinion) have a chance to be very good or even excellent values relative to their current ranking.

Last week we looked at the American League West and the National League West. Yesterday we examined the National League Central. Here’s the American League Central.

Now on to the National League East.

Atlanta Braves

Jeremy Walker, RHP: Age 21, drafted in the fifth round in 2016 from Gardner-Webb University; posted 3.18 ERA in 40 innings in Appalachian League with 37/8 K/BB and 2.04 GO/AO; throws strikes with a plus slider, fastball 90-96 MPH with sink, could advance very quickly as bullpen option if he maintains his command. You should also watch out for LHP Corbin Clouse, another hard-thrower with initial success.

Jared James, OF; Age 22, 34th round pick out of Cal Poly Pomona, hit .300/.379/.420 in pro debut between rookie ball and Low-A, 11 steals, 21 walks, 30 strikeouts in 207 at-bats; son of former major leaguer Dion James; physical tools are marginal but he showed some nice line drive hitting ability in his pro debut as well as useful speed.

Miami Marlins

Humberto Mejia, RHP: Age 19, Panamanian signed in 2013; posted 2.90 ERA with 49/10 K/BB in 50 innings between rookie ball and NY-P; projectable 6-3, 175 frame; average fastball that may get faster, already has a good curve and throws strikes; we need to see him at higher level but there’s some promise here, albeit with the typical young pitcher caveats, etc etc etc. ETA 2020.

James Nelson, 3B: Age 19, 15th round pick in 2016 from Cisco Junior College in Texas; hit .284/.344/.364 with 14 walks, 30 strikeouts in 162 at-bats in rookie ball; no power yet but may show more pop in time, has 60 speed, 60 arm, and natural actions to play third base though more refinement is needed; has received little notice as yet but has more upside than the typical 15th round pick. ETA 2020.

New York Mets

Jordan Humphreys, RHP: Age 20, 18th round pick in 2015 from high school in Crystal River, Florida; posted 3.58 ERA in 75 innings in New York-Penn League with sharp 85/16 K/BB; features 90-93 MPH fastball along with a slider and change-up and pounds the strike zone; Mets have had good luck helping similar pitchers develop.

Patrick Mazeika, C: Age 23, drafted in eighth round in 2015 out of Stetson University; hit .305/.414/.402 with 38 walks, 39 strikeouts in 239 at-bats in Low-A; lefty hitter with very impressive batting eye and feel for the barrel; despite 6-3, 210 build he hasn’t shown much home run power yet but he’s hit for average and OBP everywhere; doesn’t have a great arm but has been a reliable receiver thus far in terms of errors and passed balls.

Philadelphia Phillies

Josh Stephen, OF: Age 19, 11th round pick in 2016 from high school in Santa Ana, California; draft position was deceptive; he was considered a third round talent and it took $600,000 to sign him; hit .253/.339/.370 in rookie ball with 18 walks, 39 strikeouts in 162 at-bats; initial stat line nothing special but he has impressed scouts with his hitting skills for years and should improve his production as he moves up; he’ll need to hit because speed and defense aren’t strengths.

Kyle Young, LHP: Age 19, 22nd round pick in 2016 from high school in Oyster Bay, New York; very tall at 6-10, very skinny at listed 205; threw strikes in rookie ball with 2.67 ERA in 27 innings, 19/2 K/BB; control and curveball were much better than expected; fastball around 90 but should improve a great deal with maturity; enormous potential with this one.

Here’s high school video from Prospect Pipeline

Compare to Gulf Coast League video from Steve Givarz. Does his motion look smoother now?

Washington Nationals

Tyler Watson, LHP: Age 19, 34th round pick in 2015 from high school in Gilbert, Arizona; would have gone 30 rounds higher except he was committed to Loyola Marymount; signed for $400,000; 6-5 southpaw with strong ’16 campaign, 2.64 ERA with 64/15 K/BB in 58 innings between NY-P and Low-A, 46 hits, just one homer; low-90s heat with more projectable; already throws strikes with strong curveball, change-up coming along; highly intriguing prospect with breakthrough potential.

Armond Upshaw, OF: Age 20, 11th round pick in 2016 from Pensacola State Junior College; hit .325/.390/.400 in rookie ball with two walks, 12 strikeouts in 40 at-bats; left-handed hitter, raw with the strike zone but highly athletic with speed and a strong throwing arm, hit 90 MPH as a high school pitcher in Georgia; development project but high upside athlete.